Graeme "Scoop" Wearden doesn't get out of the office much these days, what with slaving over a hot newsdesk every day. So, when he got his ticket to the Internet Service Providers Association's annual bash, he was determined to make the most of it. Curiously, he's working from home today — and even from the office, we can hear him type very, very quietly.
I IM him, once he has struggled online, for a rundown of events.
As these things go, and as far as he could remember, it was a ripping evening. Faced with the challenge of finding an entertainer who could keep the audience entertained with some gentle banter between awards, ISPA ducked it in favour of a comedian hellbent on taking the PSTN out of the audience.
Dominic Holland delighted in telling the audience that they were a collection of geeks with very little in their favour. The kind of people, indeed, that Mr Holland bullied at school. This baiting nearly had Scoop out of his chair in search of a bit of impromptu score settling, before he worked out that Holland wasn't the tallest chap in the room and probably only ever tormented the under-fives.
The actual awards went well, right up until the Best Light Business Broadband category. BT Wholesale had stumped up the sponsorship, and their chosen representative — who for the sake of argument we'll call Joanna — strode to the microphone and announced the lucky shortlisters, which she said included "Extra Networks".
"Ahem, that's Exa Networks, actually," they piped up. BT, though, hadn't paid good money to get corrected in public (that's Ofcom's job, anyway — Ed), so Joanna put them firmly in their place by declaring: "You're just a customer." Suddenly, the room was swept back to the Bad Old Days when BT arrogance and sloth was blamed for Britain's broadband shortcomings. That's more like it.
Remembering my journalistic training — three evenings in the Star and Garter with Guy Kewney — I asked Scoop whether there was any booze in the place.
"Gallons of the stuff," he replied. "That's where my problems started.
After draining a few glasses with industry bigwigs, Scoop decided to make a run for it while he still had his senses, his house keys and his whole future ahead of him. But as he tried to slip away, he found himself face to face with ISPA's Brian Ahern, a man whose principal PR weapons are a trusty press release and a bottle of a journalist's favourite tipple.
"You're not leaving yet, Graeme," he declared, and before Scoop had worked out there wasn't a question mark at the end of the phrase he was back in the thick of it. Where, he fears, he concluded the night conducting a vox pop about whether one attendee deserved a prize for the most sparkly dress of the evening.
"Did you get her name", I asked, sensing gossip. "Yes" he replied. "Chloe". "Or was that who designed the dress..."
If you spent last night at the ISPAs and spotted Scoop in action, do let us know.... he still seems a bit shaky
Postscript: The future of the Web… is here.